Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have given California's electoral votes in presidential elections to the winner of the national popular vote, rather than the candidate who captured the state.

The bill could have gone into effect only if states with a combined total of 270 electoral votes — the number now required to win the presidency — agreed to the same process.

The U.S. presidential election is decided by electoral votes, with each state given a certain number of votes based on its population. Winning a state, even by the smallest of margins, entitles a candidate to all of that state's electoral votes.

In the 2000 election, George W. Bush won the presidency even though opponent Al Gore won the popular vote, because Bush had a majority of electoral votes.

Schwarzenegger said the bill sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Umberg, a Democrat, disregards the will of a majority of Californians.

"This is counter to the tradition of our great nation, which honors states' rights and the unique pride and identity of each state," Schwarzenegger said Saturday.

Umberg called the governor "misguided."

"The only way to make California relevant is to have it re-engage in the presidential election and not have it be thought of as an afterthought," he said of his reliably Democratic state.

Umberg said supporters would seek to get the measure on the ballot if necessary.